- Manufacturing activity in Germany expanded at a slower rate than expected this month, dampening optimism over the health of the euro zone’s largest economy, preliminary data showed on Thursday.

In a report, market research group Markit said that its preliminary German manufacturing purchasing managers’ index fell to a seasonally adjusted 54.7 in February from a final reading of 56.5 in January. Analysts had expected the index to inch down to 56.3 this month.

Meanwhile, the preliminary services purchasing managers’ index increased to a seasonally adjusted 55.4 this month from a reading of 53.1 in January. Analysts had expected the index to ease up to 53.4.

A reading above 50.0 on the index indicates industry expansion, below indicates contraction.

Commenting on the report, Ollver Kolodselke, Economist at Markit said, “Survey data for 2014 dovetails nicely with the expectations of government statisticians, who recently raised their growth forecast for the German economy to 1.8%.”

Following the release of the data, the euro added to losses against the U.S. dollar, with EUR/USD shedding 0.27% to trade at 1.3698, compared to 1.3707 ahead of the data.

Meanwhile, European stock markets were lower after the open. The EURO STOXX 50 fell 1%, France’s CAC 40 declined 0.9%, London’s FTSE 100 slumped 0.6%, while Germany''s DAX dropped 1.35%.

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